Jessica Macqueen was a perfectly healthy schoolgirl who loved horses, gymnastics and swimming.

Her mother Laura says she was excellent at school and an “amazing, healthy, happy eight-year-old”.

But in June this year, the Macqueens were given the devastating news that Jessica had a rare cancer. On October 18, the brave young girl, 9, from Watford died.

Mrs Macqueen said: “Jessica was perfectly healthy before. She loved horse riding, swimming, gymnastics. She was physically active and loving life.”

On May 20, the family had test results for a lump on Jessica’s foot.

They were told Jessica had hemangioma, a type of non-cancerous tumour in children. The family were sent home but over the next couple of weeks, Jessica deteriorated.

She was taken to the oncology department at Watford General Hospital, which immediately referred the Holy Rood Catholic Primary School pupil to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Watford Observer:

At GOSH, Jessica was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma - a highly aggressive cancer of soft tissue or bone.

Jessica underwent chemotherapy and seemed to respond well to treatment.

But in October, Jessica began to feel dizzy and she was rushed to hospital. Sadly, the cancer had spread to Jessica’s brain and after seven days in hospital, Jessica died on October 18.

Her funeral takes place today (Friday) and her primary school will be closed as a mark of respect.

Watford Observer:

Jessica pictured with her younger brother Finlay,6, at her first Holy Communion

Now her parents, Laura and Simon, who have praised the oncology department at Watford for the work they did for Jessica, are pouring all their efforts into raising awareness and money for children’s cancer treatment.

Mrs Macqueen said: “Jessica was the heartbeat of the family, she meant the world to us. She was amazing in her treatment. But following the devastating diagnosis of Jessica, it became clear to us there is a lack of funding into research for childhood cancer.”

The Macqueens have teamed up with Alice’s Arc, a children’s charity dedicated to funding research into finding a cure and less harsh treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma.

They have so far raised more than £6,000 for the charity.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock visited Watford General Hospital on Wednesday morning following news that £400m will be invested in West Herts Hospitals Trust.

We asked him to respond to the Macqueens’ claims about investment in childhood cancer.

He said: “I understand the heart-wrenching impact of cancer especially when children suffer and I’m always looking for ways to do more.

“We have a £1 billion research budget for medical research. Where that budget goes is determined by the clinicians and scientists. We have put an increased amount into cancer research, not least because of some of the new technologies that are coming on stream that are going to be able to treat cancer better.”

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